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Best Vietnamese Restaurant Orange County 2011 - Ngu Binh

Ngu Binh

Ngu Binh

14072 Magnolia St.

Westminster, CA 92683

714-903-6000

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Readers' Choice: Bodhi Tree Vegetarian Café

The Hue region of Vietnam is home to tinkerers, alchemists and artists who use rice flour as their chosen medium. Ngu Binh should be considered both a laboratory and a master's gallery of these arts, as its dishes are mostly rearrangements of the starch mixed into batter. Steamed in tiny saucers, they're called banh beo. Spread as thin as film and used as noodle wraps, they're called banh uot. The banh beo are eaten after they're splashed with fish sauce, scooped out by the teaspoonful as though they were cups of dessert gelatin. But they are merely blank canvases. Pulverized shrimp, shards of deep-fried onion, oil-wilted scallions and pieces of pork rind top them, applied for a genius stroke of color and a heady rush of textures. And did we mention the things are only appetizers? After you've traipsed down the rice-flour path, you'll encounter one of the finest bowls of bun bo hue in Little Saigon. An incendiary fire-alarm-red oil slick floats atop the first few millimeters of broth, clings to every strand of the spaghetti-thick rice noodles, and coats everything it touches, from the hand-formed pork cakes to the sliced beef brisket, even the now-throbbing insides of your mouth. $

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